topiary cats

topiary cats

Friday, September 30, 2016

Mad: Anything

I am so late on our theme.
This week has been stupid and annoying and overwhelming but everything is ok.

I had credit card points so I got this set of Senns for $24.
Which is an amazing price.  Free shipping too.

Unlike me, she doesn't suck.

Thursday, September 29, 2016


......where are my sidebar widgets with ALL MY LINKS I have saved through the last 10 years?

And my blog feed?



Do I try and edit settings and hope for the best, or do I wait and hope it all comes back? I haven't touched anything, it is all just GONE!

After crawling through blogger code, google searches, re-setting, backing up, backing up again, I typed in in Chrome to pull up yesterday's cached page.  Which had all my correct sidebar data.

Other people are having the same problem with their link lists right now, I guess because blogger just did an update.

I manually re-built everything and backed it up again, hopefully my link lists and blog feed will stay put.


Today is a very extremely stupid day, just saying.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

I can haz blog post?

Wow, I haven't posted since Saturday.
I am LATE on our mutual madness because I suck.

Sometimes after I finish what I consider to be a major painting I back off from the easel for a while,and sometimes I immediately move on to the next painting.

I have also been spending a lot of time gaming, trying to get through the Tomb Raider game that came out this year.  (I'm late on that, too.)

Oh yeah, haha maybe that's why my easel and blog are so neglected!

I'm coming on to the home stretch in Tomb Raider though, one more map to clear out and the final region so hopefully I will be done next week.

Rob just found out last night that I game sometimes, he said he never met a girl who is into gaming. I told him there are lots of us.  He said he feels a bit bugged out, which I think is pretty funny.

In other news, I picked up the Urban Decay Vice lippie palette at Sephora.  There are 2- this one is only at Sephora and i like it better than the one on the UD site.

Am completely totally LOVING it.

There is a middle school here in NYC run by Hunter College, and they invited Daya to apply based on her 5th grade test scores, which ranked in the top 3,660 students in all of NYC. She doens't wantto do it, which is fine but it is still pretty awesome that she scored in that very top percentage of students city-wide.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Metrocard Math

I did the numbers to make sure that reduced-fare metrocard really is not worth it.
The fare is $2.75.  (I thought it was $2.50 oh well)
Reduced fare is $1.35

A 7 day unlimited metrocard (good for bus and train) is $31.
That's good for 11.27 rides which makes no sense.
So let's say 12 rides. After 12 rides you are essentially not paying anymore.

In a typical week, Daya needs 16 rides total including weekends and nights.
This number could be (and often is) higher if we go out etc.

12 of those rides are during the week for dance and school.
Tuesday and Wednesday I pick her up at night and we take the train.
The student pass won't work because of the time and it is only good for the bus.

So Daya needs 12 rides that would qualify for reduced fare.

1.35 x 12 = $16.20 = weekly amount I would pay for reduced fare rides.
2.75 x 6 (regular fare rides she needs) = $16.50

$16.20 + 16.50 = $32.70

Or I could just get her an unlimited metrocard for $31 a week.

It costs me MORE to use the reduced fare pass!!
Sorry for all the Math and fuck common core too!

Friday, September 23, 2016

Well OK Nevermind

This thing is, for all practical intents and purposes, useless.


Yes it will get Daya on the bus half fare, but here's the bizarre thing:

She has to carry exact half-fare change for the bus for every single ride. $1.45 in coins every time she wants to get on the bus. That's almost always 3, sometimes 4 times a day. (The buses only take exact change, no bills)

I cannot put money on this metrocard, and it cannot be used in conjunction with a regular metrocard to pay the fare difference, which makes NO SENSE AT ALL.
It's stunningly baffling.

So basically, the logistics of using this card to get a half fare are so un-manageable and not practical it isn't even worth doing.  Believe me, I would LOVE a break on Daya's transit. But I also don't want her to be carrying an ocean of coins every day (and I would have to get these coins and i never have cash).

So we are back to an unlimited metrocard, which she can also use for the train.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

The Rockefeller Center Cranberry Bog

Today there was a cranberry bog in Rockefeller Center to celebrate Autumn.
My co-worker and I wore black and decided today is Dark Lippie Day, and we went to the bog.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Mad!! Fluffy

It's not done.

But it is rather fluffy.

9x12 pastel on Uart

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Well OK Then

School gave Daya a metrocard (for the bus only) after the principal specifically told me in a whole entire auditorium full of people that sixth graders do not get metrocards.

I said, "How did you get that?"
She said, "They just gave it to me."

Not complaining.

Carey is not late on our theme but I am.

Saturday, September 17, 2016


I was messing with Daya over text and she made a typo and I could not help myself.

It never gets old.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Some Existential Thoughts on Drawing

Drawing is hard.
It has always been hard, and it will always be hard.
Even Richard Schmid still thinks drawing is hard, and he is a master.

Artists like to come up with ways to make drawing easier.
Some trace, some use grids, some project.

Me, I'm a freehand person.  Always.
I refuse to use a projector because I am a snob, and I tried using a grid once because I saw it in a book and -- I kid you not-- I couldn't do the simple introductory exercise.  Grids don't work for me. And I want to use and develop my drawing skillz.

I was trained to work from life and even when working from a reference photo, I carry that same workflow as if I was working from life.

Basically, just like everything in the universe, everything in a drawing is interconnected.  My drawing teacher at Pratt said the first mark on the page determines the entire rest of the drawing, and I have found this to be true.

Everything in a drawing is relative to everything else. I measure placements in a very holistic way, meaning I am working with the entire picture as a whole. If something is wrong, fix it at the drawing stage.  I have learned the hard way too many times that impatience to move on to painting knowing there is a problem with the drawing will just not work out well.  Just fix the damn drawing.

Here is the drawing for Melissa with all my placement lines.
The drawing is the hardest part.  Especially in a portrait.  Millimeters count.

I made a little animated gif of the painting progression.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mad: LATE!

I have been wanting to paint this portrait for the last year. So it's late!

Original reference photo copyright Melissa Van Roosbroeck.  Used with permission.
The name Melissa means "bee" so I did a bee theme.

My most absolute favorite thing about this portrait is that I put Urban Decay Lounge eyeshadow on Melissa's eyelid!

I have a bunch of progress pics but I'll post them later.

9x12 pastel (and Urban Decay eyeshadow!)
on Sennelier pastel carte

Carey has something late too.

Monday, September 12, 2016


I have a cousin.
Had a cousin, until last Wednesday. She was 26.
Her name was Lauren and I didn't know her at all. The last time I saw her was at my grandmother's funeral exactly 10 years ago.

Her mother Carole- my aunt, and I never liked each other. At all.
I don't like her because I think she is a nasty horrible person.

I do have compassion in a universal sense for the pain Carole has been through in her life- she didn't have it easy either. But she is so flat-out nasty so on a personal level I don't want anything to do with her. She would be a great person to do Loving-Kindness meditation on, as in Buddhism that meditation is practiced on the self first, then someone you love, someone you are neutral toward, and then someone you can't stand. I shall practice.

She didn't like me because my mother never had anything good to say about me, and she thought I was weird.  And then I committed the ultimate atrocity and married a black man. When Carole found out her first reaction was...and she actually said these words at a Thanksgiving dinner- I was not there-

"I hope she is infertile."

Carole hated her daughter, too.
Which was very familiar to me as my mother never liked me either.

Since the day that child was born her mother was constantly hating on her.
As a teen and a bit in college when I still had contact with these dreadful people, I never once heard Carole say anything good about her daughter. She sure had a lot of really negative stuff to say.

It was the same dynamic as my own life.
I know the situation very well.

Carole's daughter is dead and she is STILL hating on that poor child, per my aunt Margie who is the only blood relation I actually like. She said:

"Jessica, Aunt Carole would tell you she was a very bad alcoholic who would not accept the help at multiple rehab centers and of course, had health problems as a result....."

It wasn't Lauren's fault, none of it.
When I heard she died I had a feeling drugs were involved and she overdosed on something.

Carole has a thing about alcohol because her father was an alcoholic and he died when she was 10.
She was the only person he liked and was nice to, so while everyone else was actually happy he died she was devastated. And she thinks anything to do with alcohol is alcoholism.

Well, I don't know Lauren and I don't know about any substance issues she may or may not have had, but I can say with a thousand per cent confidence she was never treated with any kind of care and love. And when she came to adulthood and self-medicated, she was treated with condemnation rather than love.  So it is no wonder.

Years ago Lauren was in a bad car accident and her mother didn't care at all.

Not all parents love their children. I suppose most do on some level. Those who love their kids as nature intended cannot comprehend such a basic absence of love in a parent-child relationship, especially mothers.  But it happens. And it is a repeating pattern in my biological family.

The mother knows she doesn't love her child, but she also knows it is unacceptable in society.
So she says "I love my daughter, I just don't like her."

And then she goes on a rant about how terrible the child is, she definitely doesn't deserve to be liked. But it is ok because "I love her, I just don't like her." Bullshit.

If you do not like someone as a person and you are always mean and horrible to them, you do not love them.  Just be fucking honest about it. Don't drag it out and justify it with these stupid rationalizations.

Not liking someone as a person and not liking what someone is doing is a distinction that needs to be made. So think about that if you see or even say "I love them, I just don't like them." Because that's a cop-out bullshit statement.

If you need to express this sentiment, just rephrase it as "I do not like what this person is doing."
Don't say "I love you but I don't like you."
If you do not like someone you do not love them either.

I wish I knew Lauren better because I came out of what she didn't make it out of. I almost didn't make it. That sorting-out process is extremely difficult.

I would tell Lauren there was never anything wrong with her. I would tell her I understand. She was fed a mental diet of self-hatred and poison since she came into this life. I would tell her to get out and don't look back.  I would tell her to go to AA if she needed to, find people who are kind and learn what it is like to have someone be nice to you. And to be that nice person, too. And if you can't find someone who is nice to you then walk alone and love yourself because it's better than being around hateful people who hate themselves so much they need to inflict it upon you and make sure you hate yourself, too.

I broke those generational patterns in my own life, and in my child's life.
None of this is passed down to her.

If I die today I will go peacefully knowing I re-patterned, re-programmed, and wove new threads into a new positive existence going forward. In cutting my own, new trail, perhaps it will make the path easier for someone else to follow.  That is my wish and my hope.

Lauren Kline

Lauren, I'm sorry you didn't make it through this time.
Remember who you are and come back.
Maybe I'll see you again next time around.
It is all ok.

Sunday, September 11, 2016


1. Apparently there is controversy about the annual re-playing of 9/11 footage and whether it should stop. Of course it should stop.  I say this as a New Yorker who saw the second tower come down in person, right before my eyes.  And I love my city. No one is forgetting.  It isn't something you ever forget. We don't need to be "reminded".

Even now in 2016 we New Yorkers will still find ourselves among strangers sharing 9/11 stories.
I have heard a whole lot of them.  There are many, many things that happened on the streets that were never on the news. Of course it is grim.  Of course it is horrible.  But re-opening the wound to keep people angry and fearful is never the answer. It is not the way to "learn from history."

How about we stop fearing and hating each other?
Because that's what makes crap like this keep happening

Besides, this country has bombed the crap out of so many others....we devastated Iraq...they have things to say about it. Of course those things never make it here in the media because then the general American public might say "This is not right."

Large-scale governments will do what they have always done- their power plays, bullying, their wars, etc. 9/11 in the history of humanity attacking each other is nothing at all.  A drop in the bucket. Zoom out.

But don't let them have your mind. Don't let them make you afraid. We are all human. We must love each other, get rid of this "us and them" mentality. It is the only way out of all this mess. It starts within individual people. Step sideways into a different flow and extend love.

2. Dance team meeting yesterday. (Daya is better, thank you for all the good thoughts)
After the meeting Daya's teachers pulled her aside and started saying how amazing she has been doing, and they want to put her in Ballet 3. Which is a very advanced ballet class.  Jazz 3 too.
I am so ridiculously proud of Daya.  She works really, really hard and it is nice that she is getting results and recognition from it.

3. Dance is so stupid-expensive and now that Daya is on team and competing (more $$$), and THE SHOES GOT REALLY EXPENSIVE! The problem with that is her feet are still growing. So I'm not quite on board with a pair of $65 tap shoes. I found a barely-used pair on ebay for half price.

At the dance team meeting I had a Brilliant Idea, and Daya is on board with it thankfully.  No more summer camp. Something really has to give financially. Daya already gets the unlimited dance class package over the summer, so she can go to the studio every day if she wants. No more summer camp is WONDERFUL, it takes a huge weight off me, especially with paying for braces, too.

I'm drowning a bit. But maybe it will be ok eventually I hope.

Friday, September 09, 2016

The Stuffy-Cold Strikes Again

Yep, it got Daya.
She called me on the way home from school and said, "I can't go to dance.  I just can't."
I said, "Come home." (I usually work from home on Fridays so I was home.)
Daya took the bus instead of walking because she felt so terrible. 
When she got home she looked dreadful and had a fever.
I gave her medicine and sent her straight to bed.
She passed out.  Coma status.

When I had my stuffy-cold Rob called me and mentioned orange juice.
I did not have any, nor did I even think about it until he mentioned it.
Then, I NEEDED it.

So I sent Daya to the store to get orange juice.  I gave her my credit card since I was out of cash, and I hoped since they know us in Duane Reade down the corner it wouldn't be a problem.  I told her to call me if there was a problem. She was also allowed to get herself something nice; whatever she wanted.  Oh, and I needed butter, too.  OJ, butter, and whatever she wanted.

There were no problems at Duane Reade and Daya came home with OJ and butter.  I asked what did she get for herself, and she said nothing, she didn't want anything. I guess no one is going to question MOM SENT ME when a child is getting orange juice and butter with a credit card.  AND she even put in my phone number for my reward points!  Daya is the Best Ever.

This is one of the super-nice things about urban life.  You can send your kid to the store.  Apparently with your credit card!

While Daya was in her coma I went to the store and got her some OJ. And salmon. Which was a good thing because she woke up STARVING. I knew she would be starving.  So I fed her and made her take a hot bath and drink orange juice and she got slathered with Vicks. Which she hates passionately.


Thursday, September 08, 2016

Middle School

School starts today, and Daya is officially off to Middle School!
The school is a good situation and I know she will be very happy there.

Tuesday, September 06, 2016

Mad: Value!

In the book of Steven there is no prophecy
'Cause there was no need for God 
in the way things came to be
Some live by faith, some live by proof
They don't meet up on a friendly road 
or live under the same roof

Yep. Carey and I are resuming our wonderful mutual madness!

Ever since I did that Tree Portal out of my head, I have been wanting to work more with that stark blinding light.  Which is all about managing values.  Value = how light or dark something is.

This is inspired by an Indigo Girls song with my own twist. It is about humanity being so caught up and stuck in our ideals and belief systems that we ignore the warning signs all around us. We forget as a whole that we are all human and the human inability to be kind and tolerant to others outside the walls of individual belief systems will destroy the world.

8x10 pastel on Richeson sanded paper (Anthracite)

And the birds fall hard like black rain
Jerking the earth with a portent stain
Beat like drums, they beat like wings
Are we looking? 
Are we listening?
                                                                                -Indigo Girls

Sunday, September 04, 2016

I Need a Word for That

I have a stuffy-cold.

It is a very stupid stuffy-cold, and it started yesterday afternoon.
This morning when I woke up it had gotten worse, and I cancelled the nice plans I had so I could stay home and attempt to wipe out the stuffy-cold.

I could't find my Vicks.  Well, I have two, one is the greaseless cream which is ok but I prefer the original because it feels better on my nose after all the tissues. And it lasts longer.

My Vicks jar lives next to my computer.  It is one of those things that I always have around if I am feeling a bit stuffy. I always see it.  It is always there.  I like having it around.

My jar of Vicks makes me happy.

But I could not find my jar of Vicks. It was not where it usually lives.

Have you ever had the experience of 
misplacing something 
you see daily and you
always know where it is, 
and when you can't find it you think 
you see it EVERYWHERE?

I need a word for that.

That is exactly what happened with my Vicks.

I did find it eventually, over by my easel.  I had looked there pretty early on in my search (several times) but it was hidden under some palette paper.

My jar of Vicks
makes me happy :)

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Wine Fridge Time-Travel Portal

For my 10 year anniversary at work I got a wine fridge, which arrived this morning.

The Wine Fridge

The cool thing about the wine fridge, other than it is a wine fridge and it has Freon, is that it is also a time travel portal.  The ship date was stated as September 13th and it is here.

I have not figured out how the time travel function works because it was not mentioned in the instructions, but I know it is there and all I can say is that if my wine time-travel-disappears I will not be happy.  If it time-travel appears that's fine.

Friday, September 02, 2016

A Thursday in NYC

My co-worker and I took a long lunch and went to the Museum of Ice Cream downtown by the High Line. We booked our tickets almost a month in is completely sold out and closes on Sept 11.  I hope they open next year because I would like to take Daya.  The ice cream museum was $20 but sooo worth it.  Really.

There were edible balloons filled with helium.

The very handsome Door Keeper to the Chocolate Chamber.

If you ever get the opportunity to go into a Sprinkle Pool, DO IT.

Sprinkle Pool sponsored
by Dylan's 
Which is a fun place but always too crowded

I didn't understand the 3 persons occupancy since there were about 15 of us in there.

Nicole and Me

In the next room we got to try that berry from Africa which turns your bitter taste buds into sweet taste buds. We then got purple and white ice cream cones with a lemon.

The straight lemon tasted EXACTLY like the most perfect lemonade you could ever dream of.
In fact, lemonade might be ruined for me now.

We walked a little bit on the High Line and got off at 14th St because it started raining.

Storm Clouds over New Jersey

Later in the evening I went out for a bit with Rob.
We went over to the Brooklyn Bridge Park which is fairly new.
I hadn't been there since the pre-park days.

It is just lovely, and nature treated us to a glorious sunset.

Manhattan Skyline from the Kosciuszko Bridge 
(pronounced Koz-ee-ah-sko)

Lower Manhattan

Statue of Liberty and Lower Manhattan

Statue of Liberty

There is a little supercute beach! I know they must have tested the water but I'm still not sure about touching the East River...though the ocean life is coming back and apparently we have whales close by again.

Supercute Beach

Panorama from Statue of Liberty to Brooklyn Bridge

Thursday, September 01, 2016

We Made It!!

We made it through another Pigeon Risk Time (PRT)!
Hello and welcome, September!!

I have a $200 electric bill*** but otherwise things are pretty ok.

School starts next week and we had middle school orientation. They won't give us a metrocard instead of the yellow bus but........all NYC middle school students get FREE LUNCH and breakfast!!!!!

Daya hates the yellow school bus, and I'm not a fan either, Most students don't get the yellow bus because everyone just walks, but there are some exceptions. We are an exception because we are on the opposite side of Queens Blvd, a major and very dangerous road.

The interesting thing about this is that her zoned elementary school required us to cross Queens Blvd (aka The Blvd of Death) and go through a ton of construction even though there is an elementary school on our side of QB 2 1/2 blocks away.

So I guess it is ok to put a kindergartner on a really dangerous walking route but not a middle schooler. But again, a Kindergartner won't be walking alone and a middle schooler might. Whatever. It still makes no sense.

Daya is not allowed to walk across QB but the subway is right there and she can cross underneath in the station.  so it isn't a big deal. But because we are on the opposite side of QB, she gets a yellow bus.  We want a metrocard like last year and they said no.

I found out that students who get a yellow bus cost the school system $500 a day per student. An unlimited full-fare metrocard is $112 a month.

Since Daya goes to dance after school on the bus most days, she does need a metrocard, So that is an extra $112 a month for me, which I was not expecting.
However, I told Daya that she's going to have breakfast and lunch at school now. I won't be packing lunch for her anymore,  That grocery money goes to her metrocard, and I'm kind of thinking that a metrocard is cheaper than feeding a child.

Lunch was not free in elementary school (breakfast is always free at school) except for the people who worked the system......I don't have a no-income adult to put on the lunch form so I have to pay.  Nevermind that I do live in a good neighborhood and the free lunch kids around here probably have two working parents and lots more money than I have**** only need one relative who isn't working to work the system.... so I would have to pay for Daya's school lunch and everyone else's with my taxes. So I packed her lunch.

I am accepting donations towards my electric bill.

There is a certain nationality in my area which is very prevalent and notorious for sneaking around the system to get benefits they really should not be getting. It is cultural.  I don't even know how they do it, to be honest, but they have a LOT of money and they also manage to get a lot of free benefits. They come here and are demanding and entitled, and also very rude on the street. They are mean to everyone, even each other. I resent it because I work and pay my taxes, I really don't have a lot to work with, and I'm also paying for them. I don't mind benefits going to people who really need it....this certain nationality in general doesn't, not with their cars and million-dollar homes.